Longing

In tonight’s Evening Prayer, the appointed psalms were 42 and 43. Many evangelicals will know 42 from the “As the deer” song. The two psalms are linked by a refrain that occurs twice in 42 and once in 43:

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

This evening, it’s the longing that strikes me — the ardent desire for God, to be forever in his living presence, to see his face.

It reminds me of two other psalms — 63, particularly as sung by Matthew Ward of Second Chapter of Acts, and 27, particularly as in two songs: “The Lord is my Light” by John Foley, and “One Thing Have I Desired” by the Maranatha Singers. (Wish I had a recording of a folk group doing this one! Funny how odd the original sounds when you’ve learned a piece through churches and other groups.)

On a side note, I was just searching YouTube earlier today for a folk mass setting of the Gloria that I remembered singing with my college roommate and the folk group at her church, and it turns out it’s by John Foley, too: “Glory to God.” And he also wrote a piece our church sometimes sings — “One bread, one body.”

The Gospel lesson this evening was Mark 5:1-20 — the story of the man who, possessed by a legion of demons, lived among tombs screaming and breaking chains. Jesus cast out the demons, who then entered a herd of two thousand hogs and hurled them into the sea. (Did Jesus make any reparation to the owner of that herd? He’s the one who gave the demons permission to enter them.)

Reading the stories about Jesus is sometimes a troubling endeavor — so many people never got near him, never had a conversation with him, only watched and listened from a distance. Many had one fantastic blessed encounter — and then nothing more. This fellow is one of those; he “was imploring Him that he might accompany Him,” but Jesus sent him home to tell his story instead (Mark 5:18b-19a). Mission work is important… but isn’t it more important to have Jesus himself? How glad I am that I live in the days after his ascension, when his earthly limitations no longer apply. It’s true that, in this life, I will never see his face or hear his voice or feel his touch, but I will also never have to watch him walk away to minister to others, leaving me behind.

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